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Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

6 49ers who could be next in line for contract extensions

Jun 20, 2024 at 3:18 PM

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Quarterback Brock Purdy will be the priority for the San Francisco 49ers after they wrap up their 2024 season, hopefully with a Lombardi Trophy in hand. Several key players are entering the final year of their contracts, and they are all held in high esteem by the 49ers.

San Francisco recently signed wide receiver Jauan Jennings and running back Christian McCaffrey to contract extensions, reducing their salary cap hits for the upcoming season. The team is still negotiating a contract extension for wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, which has proven more challenging than expected.

Let's examine the six 49ers who could be next in line for contract extensions, starting with the most obvious candidate.

Brandon Aiyuk

Aiyuk is scheduled to earn $14.124 million on a team-exercised fifth-year option. With wide receiver salaries surging, led by Justin Jefferson's recent deal averaging $35 million annually, Aiyuk is understandably reluctant to play on the fifth-year option.

The 49ers reportedly last offered Aiyuk a deal averaging $26 million per year. He likely seeks something closer to $30 million annually.

"That's not that far off," Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated recently noted. "And a lot of times, these things get ugliest towards the end. And the Deebo [Samuel] thing was not clean until it was at the very end."

My thoughts: I believe a deal between Aiyuk and the 49ers will get done. The only question is when. Last year, negotiations with defensive end Nick Bosa went down to the wire, finalized just days before the start of the regular season. Ultimately, Bosa had to compromise on his demands (though he still got a massive deal) due to the pressure to rejoin his teammates. Bosa admitted that the standoff impacted his readiness early in the season. The same might be true for Aiyuk if he can't continue to build chemistry with Purdy.

The following two players present interesting cases.

Dre Greenlaw

Dre Greenlaw is one-half of arguably the best linebacker duo in the NFL. The only wrinkle is that Greenlaw is coming off a torn Achilles suffered in the Super Bowl and isn't expected to be ready for the start of the season. This injury could impact his value, and the 49ers might prefer to see if he returns to a consistently high level before committing significant salary cap space.

My thoughts: An agreement with Greenlaw shouldn't be too complicated, as long as the 49ers act sooner rather than later. Waiting could make negotiations more challenging and costly if the linebacker returns to form. Both sides might need to compromise, balancing financial security for Greenlaw with risk protection for the 49ers.

Talanoa Hufanga

Talanoa Hufanga is also coming off an injury. He suffered a torn ACL in November but aims to be ready for the start of the regular season.

"The goal is to be ready by Week 1," Hufanga recently told reporters. "The goal is to be in training camp, not at the very beginning, but to ramp me up correctly, just so it's not throw you out there to the wolves and good luck. But trying to be smart with it."

Hufanga's last full season (2022) earned him Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro selections, and his return will boost the 49ers' defensive backfield.

My thoughts: This extension shouldn't be too complicated, either. It's just a matter of how much the 49ers value the fourth-year safety. The team drafted Ji'Ayir Brown last year and Malik Mustapha this year. If both show significant promise this season, it could impact contract talks with Hufanga, but not by much.

Charvarius Ward

Charvarius Ward won't come cheap. The cornerback is coming off his first Pro Bowl selection and was named a second-team All-Pro. He recently ranked third on Pro Football Focus' list of the NFL's top cornerbacks. Ward would love to remain with the 49ers but might not be willing to compromise on salary.

"Yeah, I'd like to stick around," Ward recently said. "I feel like it's a good team. They love me here. I love it here. I love all the coaches, love my teammates, but I just let my agent handle it. That's the business side of things. I'll just do my job, go out there and ball, put the pressure on them. Hopefully, they give me a bag."

My thoughts: It could come down to Ward and the next player on the list. With Purdy expected to take up most of the 49ers' salary cap in the future, affording luxuries might not be as easy. That includes paying two players in the same position group significant salaries (also see Aiyuk and Samuel). A deal with Ward could definitely get done, but remember that San Francisco spent a second-round draft pick on Renardo Green and picked up Isaac Yiadom in free agency. The coaches like both players. A deal for Ward might be challenging but not impossible.

Deommodore Lenoir

Deommodore Lenoir is coming off an impressive 2023 campaign. The cornerback earned career-high overall (72.5) and coverage (72.6) grades from Pro Football Focus. He was the 49ers' highest-graded defensive player (80.5) in February's Super Bowl matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, thanks partly to a career-high 94.7 run-defense grade.

My thoughts: Lenoir is a young rising star, and the 49ers would be foolish to let him walk away. They likely know that and will look to get something done with the cornerback during the season to prevent him from hitting free agency in 2025.

Aaron Banks

Aaron Banks has started 30 games over the past two seasons. Pro Football Focus has never graded the guard particularly well, as he has never earned an overall grade higher than 2022's career-high 62.7 mark. Last season's 54.9 overall grade was a career-low but still on par with how Pro Football Focus has graded him in previous seasons.

Banks' pass-blocking grade in the playoffs was 37.5, including a 23.1 mark in the Super Bowl.

One thing that stands out from Banks' statistics is that he didn't surrender a single sack through 474 pass-blocking snaps last season (597, including the playoffs). Of course, he undoubtedly benefits from being on the same side of the offensive line as one of the best ever in Trent Williams.

My thoughts: The 49ers seem to love Banks. At least, that's the impression they've publicly presented. They may overvalue the offensive lineman and try to get an extension done early, fearing that his price might go up after the season. If they really want to keep him around, the negotiations probably won't be overly complicated. Of course, the team drafted two offensive linemen this year, Dominick Puni and Jarrett Kingston. The early reports on Puni have been positive, with some believing he could contend for a starting job, if not this year, then maybe next.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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